Defending champion Tony Ricciardello storming to victory at Winton this weekend as misfortune struck round one winner Jack Perkins.
In a day of contrasts, Perkins powered from pole position to a race one win and a new Winton Motor Raceway lap record on Sunday morning, only to fail to finish races two and three - handing the points lead to the Chevrolet-powered Alfa Romeo driver in the process.
A CV joint assembly failure on the warmup lap sidelined him before race two started, before a similar failure relegated him to the sidelines in race three whilst running second. Nine-time champion Tony Ricciardello was perfectly placed to take advantage of Perkins’ misfortune, storming to two wins, the round victory and the championship lead as the series heads towards round three. Perkins only consolation from a rough weekend was a 13th straight race win and a new Winton lap record: the new benchmark standing at 1m19.8777s.
Michael Robinson’s supreme consistency saw the Bell Real Estate Holden Monaro finish second outright at Winton, with Corvette Trans-Am driver Stuart Inwood third outright thanks to a similarly consistent trio of finishes.
Victorian Brett Dickie (Honda Prelude) and Ryan McLeod (MARC Cars Australia Focus) rounded out the top five overall.
“I’m actually a bit disappointed because we wanted to have a race with Jack in race two,” Ricciardello said of Perkins non finish.
“John (Gourlay) and Jack have brought the game up this year but we have made some gains and in race to we were really racing ourselves to keep pushing forward.
“We’re probably still a few tenths off him but we’re learning more about the new tyre and getting closer so we’ll see how we go in Queensland.”
Ricciardello (255 points) now leads Perkins (165) by 90 points heading into the next round at Queensland Raceway in late July.
While Perkins and Ricciardello split the three race victories between them, an array of different drivers filled the remaining spots across the 10, 12 and 15-lap heats held at a crisp yet otherwise clear Winton Raceway.
Ricky Capo stormed from last to third in his race debut in the category, after electing to start from the back of the field after his Kerrick SAAB-Chev developed a power steering issue on the formation lap.
Capo then finished second in race two while Ryan McLeod finished a remarkable third outright in his MARC Cars Australia Ford Focus V8. McLeod headed home a feisty battle pack that included fourth-placed Stuart Inwood, Michael Robinson, Chris Donnelly and Phil Crompton.
Donnelly’s recovery to sixth position made up for a non-finish in race one thanks to a broken oil line on the gearbox of his Camaro, while Crompton’s charge to seventh came after spinning off in Donnelly’s oil in race one and subsequent issues with the driveline of his Ford Mustang.
Michael Robinson finished second behind winner Tony Ricciardello in race three, McLeod backing up his race two podium with another in the finale’ - edging out Donnelly for third in the longer 15-lap affair.
Victorian Brett Dickie finished fifth in his Honda Prelude.
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